C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Janata Colony issue takes political hue
Fiery speeches at protest rally
Main demands: Cancel cases against innocent; suspend SDM
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 5
Tension prevailed in Janata Colony in Nayagaon area, even as a rally was held today in protest against the alleged brutality by the Chandigarh police against residents of the colony three days ago.

The protesters raised slogans against the administration and the police which entered the Punjab territory and unleashed a reign of terror on the residents of the colony. They demanded that all cases registered by the police against innocent persons be cancelled. They also demanded the suspension of SDM Ankur Garg and the SHO of Chandigarh’s Sector 11 police station.

There was tight security arrangements at the venue of the protest by the Mohali and Chandigarh police.

The protest , which is now taking a political colour, was organised by the block Congress committee and the Nayagaon NAC under the leadership of former Punjab minister Jagmohan Singh Kang.

Condemning the police action, Kang said that whenever the SAD was in power in Punjab, there were excesses against the people. He criticised Mohali deputy commissioner H.I.S. Grewal for being a silent spectator to the police brutality.

He said the problem of the construction of the PGI boundary wall, which blocked the access of residents of the colony to the city, could have been sorted out through talks with the administration.

Kang claimed that he had prevented similar action planned by the administration six months ago when he was a minister in the Amarinder Singh cabinet.

Sadhu Singh, general secretary of the district Congress committee, said if the cases registered against innocent persons were not cancelled and action not taken against the guilty officials, he would resort to immolation.

Manjit Singh Kamboj, president of the Nayagaon joint action committee, said if the protesters’ grievances were not redressed, a protest would be staged in front of the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh.

The trouble started on May 3 when the administration officials along with the police tried to have a part of the PGI boundary wall erected. Residents got agitated on seeing their access to the Chandigarh area being blocked.



Under secy fined Rs 25,000
Sanjeev Singh Bariana/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Central Information Commission(CIC) has fined Satya Thakar, under secretary(Home), Chandigarh administration, a sum of Rs 25,000 on account of delay in providing information to a local resident under the Right to Information Act.

In another case recently, Uma Shankar Sharma AC (F and A) in the estate office was also fined Rs 25,000 for not providing information on time. Mehar Singh had sought information which involved gathering data from different departments. Certain records were not available with the 'custodians' of information which became a major basis for the order.

The commission has directed the joint secretary(Home) to recover the amount as penalty from the account of the under secretary by the first week of May, 2007.

Mehar Singh, the complainant, had sought certain information which was denied by the office of the under secretary (home). An appeal was also "filed" by the joint secretary (home), saying since the information was not available with the officer, it could not be said to have been denied. The order said: "Whatever is available with the public office has been supplied to him".

The officer maintained that the delay had occurred because of late receipt of information from other branches of the secretariat, concerned with the case.

Another order stayed

The Central Information Commission has stayed its own order in which it had indicted central public information officer of the estate office Uma Shankar Sharma and fined him Rs 25,000.

The penalty had been imposed following his inability to provide information sought under the RTI Act. Sector 22 resident Vinod Sharma had sought information regarding building bylaws violation.



Priyanka is Class XII topper
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 5
Prinyaka, a student of Sarthak Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 12-A, topped the Class XII Senior Secondary examination in the district, scoring 90.8 per cent marks, here today. She has also topped the in the science stream in the district.

Amba, a student of the same school, topped in the Commerce stream, scoring 90 per cent marks. Rinku Gandhi, a student of Government Senior Secondary School, Pinjore, topped in the Arts stream with 84.80 per cent. The over all pass percentage of the district showed significant improvement. The Education Department attributed the improvement to the introduction of the semester system.

In the district, the pass percentage went up from 53.13 per cent to 59.45 per cent in the arts stream, from 40.72 per cent to 75.25 per cent in the Science stream and 60.13 to 86.17 per cent in the Commerce stream.

Interestingly, the first three positions in the Science and Arts stream were bagged by Sarthak School. In Commerce, Rajni and Rakesh were placed second and third with 81.8 and 78.4 per cent respectively. In the science stream, Rahul Bansal and Seema scored 85.4 and 84.2 per cent respectively.

In the Arts stream also, GSSS-Pinjore bagged the first three positions with Narinder scoring 83.4 per cent and Mandeep Kaur a close third with 83 per cent.



10 months gone, no mid-day meals here
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
At least 40 students of a school, run under the education guarantee scheme (EGS) in Tandi village, near Nayagoan, have not been served their mid-day meal for the last 10 months.

Irregular supply of the meals to another nearby school in Kanhe ka Bada village has also been reported by volunteers manning the EGS centres. The volunteers are deputed by the village education development committee of respective villages.

In both cases, officials in the education department, entrusted with the job of supplying the prepared meal to the two ECS centres, did not bother to transport the food to the students. Funds and stock of wheat and rice were, however, regularly supplied to the source centre.

The village education development committee complained in writing to block primary education officer (BEPO) Harpal Kaur on April 18 about the matter, who visited the school after receiving the information. A preliminary report was submitted on April 27, said sources in the education department.

The teacher concerned in the government elementary school, Tanda Karor , where the mid-day meal is prepared, failed to send the meal to the volunteers of the two EGS centres. Also, no intimation about the meal not reaching the centres was given to the district education office in Mohali.

On the basis of a complaint lodged by the village education development committee and Kanchan, a volunteer at the Tandi centre, the education minister directed the education secretary to probe the matter.

Neither the DEO (Secondary) nor BEPO Harpal Kaur were available for comment. Members of the village education development committee told the Tribune that though the DEO and the BEPO had visited the area, no action had been taken so far. Rather an effort had been made to hush the matter, alleged villagers.



When VC Sobti nearly drowned

Chandigarh, May 5
Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof R.C. Sobti didn’t know what he was getting into when he jumped into the swimming pool out of sheer enthusiasm after inaugurating the same at the campus here today.

Though the VC knows swimming, being out of practice for many years, he did not realise that the excitement could be dangerous. After jumping into the water, he could not synchronise the movements of his hands and feet, and began to drown.

Athletics lecturer Gurmit Singh and a life came to the rescue of the university head while the officials outside the pool assisted him with a bamboo stick. The VC was quick to regain composure and shared some light moments present there. — TNS



Games People Play
Fake theft of car, try selling it
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
They were caught in their own game. A Burail resident along with his three accomplices allegedly faked theft of his vehicle and was nabbed while trying to sell it to a dealer in the Industrial Area after forging its fake registration certificate (RC).

SHO of the Industrial Area police station inspector Jagir Singh said the gang was busted following information by Narinder Singh of Phase I, Industrial Area, who deals in the sale-purchase of vehicles.

Those arrested are Pardeep Rathore of Burail, Vijay Kumar of Dhanas and Karan of Mohali. The police is on the trail of Raj of Zirakpur.

Narinder on Friday reported to the police that three persons approached him for selling a Tavera SUV (PB-65-D-8848). He got suspicious about the authenticity of the vehicle’s documents, when the trio failed to produce documents other then the RC.

When he insisted on all documents, the trio said they would do the needful in a day or two. They left the RC with Narinder.

The SHO said the vehicle was later found abandoned in Sector 38. When Pardeep approached Narinder to get back the RC, he was nabbed by the police.

During interrogation, 27-year-old Pardeep, who operate taxies and also deals in the sale-purchase of vehicles, said he got a case registered in the Sector 34 police station on May 2 regarding the theft of his vehicle.

He then approached Karan, who forged the RC after charging Rs 56,000 from him. Thereafter, he along with his partner Raj and Vijay, a mechanic in the Sector 38 Motor Market, prepared a fake number plate and went to sell the vehicle in the Industrial Area.

Karan and Vijay were arrested today. Pardeep told the police that he had purchased the vehicle as a taxi (Ch-02-1893) in July last year and raised a loan of Rs 5 lakh from the ICICI Bank. As he was facing a financial crunch, he hatched a conspiracy to make a quick buck.

A case of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy had been registered against the gang members. Outside the police station, Karan’s mother told TNS that her son was innocent was implicated in the case.



Live wire on road kills milkman
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur, May 5
Thirty-year-old Lajja Ram from Naggal was electrocuted by a high-tension live wire over which he tripped on his way back home last night. Lajja Ram, a milk supplier and nephew of Naggal village sarpanch, was returning from Chandigarh to Naggal when his bike came in contact with the wire in the middle of the link road connecting Parol and Naggal.

Eyewitnesses said tyres of Lajja Ram’s bike exploded right away and his body was burnt within seconds.

The supply to the killer wire comes from 11 KV station. Ideally, the power supply to the wire should have snapped the moment a snag developed. But that did not happen. For a long time after Lajja Ram had died, the live wire kept lying on the road till the villagers informed the power station.

Meanwhile, the incident triggered a protest by villagers who reportedly blocked traffic. Mullanpur police personnel however said no such incident took place. They said Lajja Ram’s father Pritam Singh had given a statement that his son was electrocuted and that he did not want action against anybody.



Ammo Scam
National security compromised: Defence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The defence in the general court martial (GCM) trying a colonel for alleged misappropriation of ammunition today contended that national security was compromised by the commander of an artillery brigade by taking a secret map on record of the court of inquiry proceedings.

In a written statement submitted to the court, the defence also claimed that during the GCM proceedings last week the prosecution had produced a map marked as secret, which gave locations of forward posts. Had the map been taken on record of the court proceedings, it would have been a breach of national security, defence counsel Col S.K. Aggarwal (retd) contended, adding that it was the defence which had advised the court against taking the map on record.

The defence also claimed that the prosecution, through its statement made on April 28, had conceded that it had committed contempt of court. The prosecution had produced a document as annexure to a letter purported to be part of a letter written by 4/8 Gorkha Rifles, but a witness during deposition admitted to the contrary.

Col Aggarwal contended that the GCM’s presiding officer had tried to gag and intimidate the defence so that the trial could be conducted to suit the convenience and the dictates of the prosecution. The prosecution, he added, was being conducted in a secret manner and it was a matter of record that five witnesses could not answer questions of the defence due to want of documents.

He said the court had been asking the defence pending questions and recall witnesses as and when the documents were available. 



Makes forays into the world of films
Harpal Tiwana Foundation goes international
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Harpal Tiwana Foundation has gone international with the opening of two branches in Canada. Based in Toronto, the new branches will work towards the promotion of Punjabi theatre abroad.

Back from Canada after a successful professional tour with the historic Harpal Tiwana play “Sirhind di Diwaar”, his son Manpal Tiwana says a lot remains to be done.

In Chandigarh today, Manpal, creative head of the foundation, said “Sirhind di Diwaar”, which traces the events that caused the martyrdom of Sahibzadas, was renamed for the Canadian tour.

“It was called ‘Mitr Pyare Nu’ after shabads Jagjit Singh rendered for the production, the only one for which he has ever sung,” he said.

For the future, the production would be titled, “Jagjit Singh presents”, with the ghazal singer agreeing to offer his credit line to it. In Canada, the play, done on an epic scale, was presented in Kelowna, Winnpeg, Calgary and Edmonton. It opened to a rousing welcome and concluded amidst a rousing applause, said Manpal, who had restructured the original Harpal Tiwana play two years ago.

The play is unique in many ways. It has been recreated with the changing times in mind. Its music, made and rendered by Jagjit Singh, has been professionally recorded, its actors well chosen.

The role of Sher Mohd Khan, the nawab of Malerkotla, who rubbishes Wazir Khan’s order regarding the execution of Sahibzadas, has been done by Girija Shankar, the famous Dhritrashtra from mega TV serial “Mahabharata”. Manpal himself plays Wazir Khan, the main villain.

The Canadian tour saw the foundation’s repertory members play all major roles.

“We had opened the restructured production at the Patiala heritage festival in 2005, but we were not sure if it would work abroad. We were surprised at the response. We opened to full auditoriums, sometimes we had to repeat our productions,” said Manpal, who carries on his shoulders the burden of preserving his father’s legacy.

With this in mind, he has even announced the foundation’s forays into the world of cinema.

“We are working on a full-fledged film production and we have the commitment of Om Puri and Jagjit Singh for it. The production will be ready by the next year,” Manpal said. These days he is busy converting his father’s super-hit film “Laung da Lashkara” into a theatrical production. The idea is to recreate the magic of an old film in a new space.

“We are working with 23 actors and it is not easy. But we are committed to doing commercially viable theatre and the only way to do it is by taking professional risks,” says Manpal, with a sense of dejection over the functioning of art and culture academies in Punjab.

“Five years after Harpal Tiwana passed away, the Punjab Arts Council has not cared to utilise the experience of my mother Neena Tiwana,” he said.

Harpal and Neena Tiwana was the first Punjabi couple to pass out of the National School of Drama.



Experts to study viability of monorail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The ministry of urban affairs has decided to constitute an expert committee which will see the viability of the monorail project in the city before the final recommendation. The committee will be visiting the city shortly.

The issue came up during a meeting of senior UT officials with S.K.Lohia, director in the ministry of urban development, here today. The officials included Krishna Mohan, the secretary, transport, the chief engineer and the chief architect.

An inspection of the proposed rail route on the Himalayan, Jan Marg and the Madhya Marg was made by the team.

The meeting also dwelt on the possibility of other services being disrupted because of the monorail.



PGI staff not to go on mass casual leave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The OT Technical Staff Association of PGI has decided to withdraw its call for mass casual leave on Monday after the administration agreed to constitute a five-member committee to look into their demands with the Union ministry of health and family welfare, here today.

The association had served a notice to the PGI administration last month for mass casual leave on May 7, protesting against the non-implementation of pay scales of operation theatre assistants on a par with AIIMS, New Delhi.

During a meeting between representatives of the administration and association members in the presence of assistant labour commissioner A.K. Aggarwal, it was decided that a joint consultative committee, including two representatives from the association and a labour officer from the PGI with two members from the PGI administration would pursue the case with the ministry.

Sources in the PGI administration informed that the case has already been re-submitted to the ministry two weeks back.



Sec 24-D shopkeepers irked over lack of amenities
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Unending wait for basic amenities in the Sector 24-D market has led to widespread resentment among the shopkeepers. After having managed without water taps, streetlights and proper parking places for years together, the shopkeepers have now have started to vent their ire. Repeated attempts to draw the municipal council’s attention to their problems proved futile for over a 100 shop owners in the market. The market welfare association has been trying to get basic amenities for the last seven years, but to no avail.

Rakesh Kanojia, president of the welfare association, said Pawan Kumar Bansal, in 2000, had allocated Rs 2 lakh for various development works, but nothing has been done to date. He stated that in 2005 a joint committee of the UT administration and the MC had approved Rs 1 crore for the development of Sector 24, out of which Rs 25 lakh was to be spent on the market. “Even then, the state of affairs is the same,” lamented Kanojia.

Vishal Dhand, who owns a cement store, said no taps were ever installed in the market. “I got a tap installed here for which the expenditure was borne by me,” claimed Dhand. However, he rued that when they tried to build a water tank, the MC authorities thwarted the move saying it was illegal. He said the lack of streetlights in the market created security problems.

The shopkeepers also stated recently that the MC had re-carpeted some portions of the parking places. Though the parking area outside the shop of the local councillor was completely re-carpeted, only 15 feet was re-carpeted in the other block. Shopkeepers said the councillor had assured that the work would be completed by the end of March, but it has not been done.

The green belts in the markets are also in a state of neglect as is the rehri market, with no toilets and water facilities available there. 



Development plan for Industrial Area approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
With the aim to provide more infrastructure in the Industrial Area, the Empowered Committee of the UT administration today approved a conceptual plan for the development of Phase I and II.

The Empowered Committee, comprises of the home secretary UT, finance secretary UT, chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board and the commissioner of the municipal corporation.

As per the plan, landscape development of the V2 road from Tribune Chowk to Hallo Majra Chowk is being undertaken with the introduction of shrubs, which will cut the light glare coming from the opposite direction. They are also being introduced on both sides of the road in a geometric pattern to add visual interest. The species chosen for the same are indigenous and require minimum maintenance.

It was also decided to highlight prominent entry points to the Industrial Area by adding landscape features, comprising of water bodies, tiered plantations and subtle illumination at night.

The Empowered Committee also approved temporary parking in Industrial Area Phase I, which will cater to the requirements of persons who visit multiplexes and shopping malls in the area.

Various important projects of widening and strengthening of existing roads and public health works, such as storm water drainage and sewerage network were also approved by the committee.

The spokesman of the panel said all the works would now be executed in time, making this area an economic hub not only for Chandigarh but also for the entire northern region.



City residents to promote tourism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Chandigarh Tourism conducted an orientation programme for volunteers at the Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42, here today, to promote the city as a tourist destination.

The 50 volunteers who took part in the programme will act as ambassadors of Chandigarh. The volunteers, who are doctors, architects, retired army personnel and people from various other backgrounds, came forward to contribute their bit to their city.

The volunteers will be issued identity cards to prove their association with the department. The volunteers, who will be in contact with the department regularly, will assist it in various activities.

Director tourism, Vivek Atray, principal Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management Navin Kumar and a medical tourism expert addressed the volunteers and briefed them on various upcoming activities. The programme also included an interactive session.



Senior cops hear citizens’ grievances
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
As a part of the Citizen Police Interface Programme, top brass of the Chandigarh police today lent their ears to the grievances of city residents in two functions held at Sector 10, DAV College and at Law Bhavan in Sector 37.

The citizens highlighted problems pertaining to traffic management, nuisances created by the increasing number of liquor vends in the city. They demanded the police increase patrolling in the streets, which would deter criminals.

UT inspector-general of police (IGP) S.K. Jain and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gaurav Yadav met the citizens to discuss their problems. The morning session was held at DAV College while the evening function was organised at Law Bhavan.

The residents complained that in the wake of the rising number of vehicles in the city, steps should be taken to make the traffic police more effective. They also asked the senior police officials to make efforts to reduce chaos at the Aroma traffic lights’ point during peak hours.

Harinder Mann of Sector 15 pointed out the nuisance caused by the opening of two liquor vends in their market area. She said tipplers and smokers have virtually made it impossible for the women to pass by the area in the evening.

Harinder demanded that the administration desist from its practice of opening liquor vends at every corner of the city.

A.S. Sidhu, a senior citizen, asked the police to enforce lane driving instead of only challaning motorists who over-speed. He said a lot of accidents took place as motorists do not stick to proper lanes.

Besides this, the menace of beggary, rash rickshaw pullers who rarely follow traffic rules and dysfunctional streetlights, were also discussed during the session, which lasted for more than three hours.

Interestingly, no one raised fingers on the working or attitude of the police officers, compelling the IGP to ask them to highlight problems they faced at the hands of the police.

On his part, the IGP assured the citizens that steps were being taken to improve the situation and gadgets were being purchased to ensure better traffic management in the city.



UT gifts music, books to Burail jail inmates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Burail Jail is all poised for a musical makeover. The UT Education Department has taken a novel initiative of introducing music education in the jail aimed at ensuring personality and emotional development of the inmates.

“We have introduced music basically as a therapy for the inmates so as to enable them to lead a stress-free life. Those who will show interest in acquiring formal education in music will be trained by music teachers appointed for the purpose,” says P.R. Aggarwal, deputy director (Colleges), UT.

The administration has already deputed Kanwar Iqbal, music teacher in the Government College, Sector 46, and Tabla player Ravi Garg as teachers in the Burail Jail.

This musical experiment on the jail inmates is being carried out to give a new orientation to their lives. The idea is to connect them to the social mainstream and kill their loneliness.

The musical moments will remain for a month initially and if the experiment proves successful, its duration may be extended.

This is not all. A library is also being planned for the jail inmates which will boast of 500 books initially and after six months, 500 more books will be added.

“The books will be procured by May 7 from the Central State Library. As many as 20 magazines will also be given to the inmates,” says Aggarwal.

For the human rights bodies crying hoarse over custodial deaths and poor living conditions of the jail inmates in the country, the UT move will surely come as a whiff of fresh air. 



Residents of Ward No. 13 voice demands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The committee of Ward No. 13 today held its meeting in the community centre of Sector 33, where various problems being faced by the residents were discussed.

The meeting was chaired by Ram Sumer Maurya, councillor of the ward. The residents demanded that speed breakers be constructed on the main road in the ward. Besides, demands of a gymnasium and a play ground were also put forward by the residents. They also insisted upon the construction of benches in parks, crèche for poor children, a community centre, and a dispensary for the locals.



100 attend AA meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Over 100 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members and their families gathered from all over North India to celebrate 50 years of its functioning. The function was held at Carmel Convent School, Sector 9, here, today.

AA is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to maintain sobriety and offer to share their recovery experience freely with others who may have a drinking problem. The programme consists basically of 12 steps designed for personal recovery from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees. In North India, AA meetings are held in Chandigarh, Amritsar, Batala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepur, Nangal, Ambala, Karnal.

AA helpline numbers:

Chandigarh: 9417037358

Punjab: 9417837531

Haryana: 9896374204

Jammu: 9906273057

Al-anon: 9815504686



Fire in Sector 22-B office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Office equipments and furniture worth thousands of rupees were destroyed in a fire that broke out in SCOs 1,104 and 1,105, the office of a private advertising and marking firm in Sector 22 B, this morning.

The fire was reported at around 6.30 am. The fire department pressed into action three fire tenders which immediately reached the spot. It took around two hours for the flames to be douses.

Though the exact loss is yet to be ascertained, fire officials stated that five computers, one fax machine, a TV set and two air conditioners were gutted in the fire.

The officials maintained that a short circuit was believed to have caused the fire. 



GM unveils Spark in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
General Motors India today launched Chevrolet Spark at a function held here today.

Described as the world’s newest-generation compact city vehicle in the mini-car segment, its manufacturer is offering the model in four variants, price ranging from Rs 3,09, 851 to Rs 3,89,853. The ABS facility in the top-end model would come at an extra cost.

“Spark sets a new standard for its segment through its modern design, clever space utilisation, affordability and solid engineering,” said Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director, GM India.

“Last year, we began construction of a new manufacturing facility and introduced three new Chevrolet products, Aveo, SRV and Aveo U-VA. We are keeping up the momentum this year with the introduction of Chevrolet Spark, which gives GM an entry into India’s predominant market segment,” he added.



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